Half-Navajo geologist Jamie Waterman has been selected for the ground team of the first manned expedition to our mysterious neighbor planet. Joining an international team of astronauts and scientists, he endures the rigors of training, the dangers of traveling an incredible distance in space, the challenges of an alien landscape, and the personal and political conflicts that arise when the team must face the most shocking discovery of all.
©1992 Ben Bova; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A bulging, impressive, all-you-ever-wanted-to-know, you-are-there Martian odyssey." (Kirkus Reviews)
Mars is Ben Bova's love letter to space exploration; it's a novel-length booster for a manned Mars program. A very well-conceived and engaging (in places) novel, you should not read it expecting it to be space opera or really, any kind of adventure aside from the inevitable dangers of flying to another planet. Mars stays strictly hard SF, so even when the possibility of life on Mars arises, you can be sure it won't come in the form of ancient cities and little red men, nor hazardous beasties who need to be shot or run from.
The main character is Jamie Waterman, a half-Navajo geologist who is a member of the first Mars expedition. The expedition is a multinational effort, with astronauts and scientists from every country that could afford to chip in. Much of the drama in the book involves the politics of the mission — the Russians and the Americans jealously keep track of how many astronauts of each country get to join the landing party, the Japanese astronauts are hyper-conscious of how they are representing their country, and the promiscuous hottie who does every other man on the expedition deliberately drives the Russians crazy by not sleeping with them because Russians killed her grandfather fifty years ago. Meanwhile, back home the founder of the Mars project is trying to balance concerns for the mission (including the fact that his own daughter is one of the scientists on Mars) with satisfying the politicians, in whose hands rest the decision to send more Mars expeditions or not. There are politics in space and on the ground, along with dossiers on each character that add depth to their backgrounds so that we understand why each one behaves the way they do on the mission.
That said, while the characters were each fleshed out and the story is compellingly plausible, with just enough hazards introduced to make the mission more than a long walk in space, it's a little spare as sci-fi goes. The major life-threatening situation that arises — a "Mars flu" that mysteriously afflicts everyone and stumps all the physicians trying to figure out its cause — has a clever forehead-smacking solution. There are hints of Martian life that don't really develop into much by the end of the book, though they are enough to whet the appetites of scientists, and readers of subsequent books in this series. There is some political intrigue between Jaimie Waterman, his ambitious journalist girlfriend back on Earth, and the opportunistic Vice President of the United States, each of them trying to get what they want from the other to advance their own agenda.
An enjoyable if slightly dry hard SF novel that should certainly go on your "Mars or Bust!" reading list. 3.5 stars - good book, though not very exciting.
I was sucked into the story line right away and wasn't able to put it down once I got started. The narrator's performance was equally awesome, making every character come to life with each its own voice and accent. Sublime. I was so disappointed I reached the last chapter, just to find out there are two follow-on books. Made my day! Recommended A++.
It was incredibly hard for me to listen to this story from the POV of a Navajo trying to reclaim his roots. People need to get the culture down before putting their main character in it. Most irritating was the assumption of the coming of age "ceremony?". It would have been for a girl at menarch.Iy really would have been a better story without it..
Constantly good, never immensely excellent, but Bova is always good
I listened to sam gunn...venus and mars.
sam gunn was funnier. but all have nice sci-fy stuff in them
venus was more about the space travel which i like...mars more about the destination.
I would have to say sam gunn>>venus>mars
Space opera in the Arthur C Clarke tradition: impeccable science and high adventure. Lyric descriptions of Martian landscapes, death-defying heroes. Romance... but no sex, please!
I liked Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy immensely, and was a bit leery of anyone else trespassing. No need. Mars is fun!
Audiobook Junkie... Love all types of Science Fiction
Mars by Ben Bova is about Earth's first manned mission to mars. The book was written in 1992 so it might be a little out of date. The main character, Jamie, Is half Native American and the story makes a big fuss about racism in America towards this culture. This book isn't my favorite of those that I have read so far from Ben Bova. The story went by very slow. Yet, Ben Bova is a good enough writer to keep me interested enough to listen to the whole thing. Just do not expect high amount of action. This has a more realistic feel and might be more similar to a real mars mission, not some Buck Rogers fantasy adventure. I found the characters likable. I think mainly this book could have used a nice editing job and a little more suspense. Overall, I am satisfied with this read and I will continue to buy Ben Bova's work. A bunch of other stand alone novels falls in the same time line as this one, so there is more to look forward to after this read if you like it. As to that, I can recommend Empire Builders.
I don't know how you make such a good subject such a boring read. The narrator did the accents very well and everything was very professional - but the book was sooo boring. Oh well.
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